Freedom of Information Act

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The Freedom of Information Act (2000) provides the public with access to official information held by public authorities. The Act entitles members of the public to request information from these authorities, and also forces public authorities to publish certain information about their activities. It does not allow members of the public access to information held about themselves, such as health records or contact information - this is instead covered under the Data Protection Act.

Authorities covered by the act include government departments, the NHS, state schools, police forces, and others. Certain bodies are exempt for certain information; for example, health practitioners only have to answer questions about their NHS work, not any private medical services they may also provide.

The Act only covers recorded information - including printed or digital documents, emails, and video or audio recordings - and does not include information that may be known by members of an authority but is not written down or recorded.